The Incredible Disappearing Stakeholder Meeting for Cuomo’s Tappan Zee

Tappan Zee Bridge stakeholders were invited to speak on the Cuomo administration's draft environmental impact statement...

Time was, the public outreach for the new Tappan Zee Bridge included five different Stakeholders’ Advisory Working Groups. Each let interested parties dig deeper into issues like the environmental impact of the bridge or how the new transit service might affect development.

Now, however, Governor Andrew Cuomo has “fast-tracked” the construction of a replacement Tappan Zee by scrapping the popular transit elements and plowing ahead with a bloated $5 billion plan to double the size of the bridge. Under the governor’s new timeline, there’s no more room for public stakeholders to weigh in on the bridge.

Two weeks ago, the stakeholders were invited to the latest meeting of their working groups to discuss the recently-released draft environmental impact statement for the highway-only bridge. Yesterday, they learned that their meeting had been cancelled. They were invited to attend the mandated DEIS public comment sessions, but no other stakeholder meetings have been scheduled.

... until the state decided that stakeholders didn't need to continue participating in the public process anymore.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Transportation said that the first invitation was a “clerical error” and should not have been sent. The spokesperson would not say whether the meeting had been scheduled and then cancelled or how a date, time, and location were generated for a meeting that was never planned.

It’s just one more sign that under Governor Cuomo, public outreach on the bridge has effectively ended. Even though there’s no plan to even pay for the bridge, it’s full-steam ahead with an oversized and transit-less bridge. It’s Cuomo’s way or the highway — except that on the Tappan Zee Bridge, those are the same option.